The Spanish philosopher, José Ortega Y Gasset once wrote:
“Poet begins where the man ends; The man’s lot is to live his human life, the poet’s is to invent what is non existent.”
Somehow, poets in our country go unnoticed for unknown reasons. Even those who have graced many hit songs with their lyrical poetry have failed to hog the limelight.
One such bard is Sabir Zafar. His unsung genius preoccupied my mind when I saw his name in lyrical credits of Jhaliya, the latest addition to coke studios and probably one of the best sufi kalaam of this season.
Sabir, a self effacing person and a low profile yet prolific lyricist, wants to be known primarily as a poet.
Despite all the efforts of Sabir to shake off his image as a lyricist he finds himself in the company of legends like Bhulleh Shah and Waris Shah as their Troika has contributed the lyrics for the Jhaleya song from Coke studios episode 5 Season 9.
Segueing forward, we see Sabir’s kitty full of laurels, which his compatriots are not aware or have not taken note of.
His Magnus opus in my view was the patriotic ode ” hai jazba junoon tau hummat na haar” , sung by the avant-garde Junoon band.
It’s popularity skyrocketed immediately and it became a sports anthem in the country when released on the occasion of 1996 cricket world cup. The national cricket team failed to live up to the amazing lyrics is another story altogether.
The Sporting debacle did not hold back Sabir from rhythmic creation of magical words and his poetry was later rendered by Ali Azmat and Slaman Ahmad even after Junoon disbanded.
The lyrics of Ali Azmat’s song “Garaj Baras” and Salman Ahmad’s “Ghoom Ta nana” both are creation of the bohemian poet.
The way he deftly manipulates words is sublime. It feels as if every ode, ghazal, poem and lyric of his is an emotion which has found its thought.
Another startling fact is that apparently the lesser known Sabir Zafar is omnipresent, contributing immensely everyday. This defence day was no different, when the touching biopic “Aik the maryam”, based on the life of Maryam Mukhtiar, the female fighter pilot of Pakistan, was aired.
Lyrics of the telefilm’s original sound track were the creation of Sabir Zafar, to which Zeb Bangash lent her mellifluous voice.
Jotting down names of musical giants of Pakistan ranging from Nazia Hassan, Sajjad Ali, Ali azmat, Slaman Ahmad and Zoheb hassan to Zeb bangash, All of them had the privilege of serenading on Sabir’s silky poetry.
Similarly, Sabir’s powerful lyrics were behind many hit serials’ Orginal sound tracks ala Dayar e Dil, Mano Salwa and Maat to name a few.
A prolific peot, he has 22 collections of poetry under his belt. Another feather in his cap was receiving Tamgha -e- imtiaz from the government of Pakistan in recognition for his services in the field of poetry that spans many decades.
Securing the coveted accolade is no mean feat to achieve for an Ahmadi, as members from the vulnerable minority had to fight against the tide to prove their mettle in Pakistan, owing to past precedents and the prevalent narrative in the country.
Probably this aura of obscurity comes natural to Sabir Zafar, as many Ahmadis like him wake up every day to play constructive role for pakistan in their limited domain, without being noticed.
In 1974, when Ahmadis were declared non Muslims and their houses were burnt down including some of Sabir’s close ones; despondent, he wrote the following verses :
Hamesha halqa e Na meherban mein rehtay hein
Jo huq pay hotay hein, imtihaan mein rehtay hein
Husud ke Aag say kis kis ka ghar jalao gay
Kay ahl e ishq tau saaray jahan mein rehtay hein
As José Ortega Gasset has aptly described, seems like Sabir Zafar is also trying to invent what is non existent in our society and that is the culture of tolerance, unity and above all syncretism, as indicated in one of his famous couplet:
Na tera khuda koi aur hai , Na mera khuda koi aur hai
Yeh jo kismatein hein juda juda, yeh mamala koi aur hai